The Cult of Christianity

Christianity was founded roughly 2,000 years ago on the shores of a big lake in the Near East that still exists today – the Sea of Galilee. It has its roots in a small town that still exists today in present-day Israel – Bethlehem. Its foundation was made permanent a city of much strife for thousands of years both before and after – Jerusalem.

It started out as a small sect of Judaism that most in its day found humorous at best, blasphemous at worst. A small group of fishermen, tax collectors, whores, and other assorted scum of the earth claimed to have met the Messiah, and that he taught that to live, you must die. He claimed he was God, a claim that makes him (paraphrasing CS Lewis here) either a liar, a lunatic, or LORD.

The Messiah had already drawn large crowds during during his life, but that was nothing new for the era. “Messiah”s of various forms had been rising up for hundreds of years before this one, gaining large crowds during their lives, only to die (usually by execution) and have their names be forgotten in the annals of history.

No, two things made this Messiah different: 1) After his extremely brutal -so brutal that he was no longer recognizable as human- and extremely public -so public that people from thousands of miles away saw it first hand- execution, he was seen by thousands living and breathing, with barely a scar on his body. 2) Because of this resurrection, this Messiah continued to draw large crowds after his death.

But 2,000 years later, his followers have devolved to where many of them – perhaps even most of them – have lost sight of the true Jesus Christ of Nazareth and what he did.

Christianity has become a cult.
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Free Will and Divine Omniscience

I had a Facebook friend overnight put up this statement:

You can’t have free will if God knows what you are going to do, before you do it.

The thing to remember here is that God exists outside of Time, which is a human construct. Therefore, Free Will vs Divine Omniscience becomes a frame of reference issue.

The classic frame of reference example is to look straight out of a train window. You see objects moving, which to you indicates that they are moving and that you are standing still. They, however, see a train moving and that they are standing still.

Which is correct?

It depends on your frame of reference. :D

Similarly, the issue of Free will vs Divine Omniscience is also a frame of reference issue. Humans can accurately see, and thus know, only the present and past – much like a 180 degree camera on a train that is pointed towards the back of the train. It can see absolutely everything from its point on the train and backwards, but will never see towards the front of the train. Let us further assume that this camera is mounted on a horizontal rack and can move freely across the train side to side.

While the camera is free to move about horizontally all it wants, it will never see the front of the train, no matter how hard it tries. It will only get different views of its present and past, which may dictate the position it choose to be in next. But even in its next position, it will never see the front of the train.

God, however, exists independently of the train, and can see the entire train at once. Thus, He can see what the camera cannot. He can point things out behind the camera and beside the camera, and thus help to point the camera to the next best position, but He will always know exactly what the front of the train looks like, while the camera will not.

Thus, because of frames of reference in regards to Time, Free Will and Divine Omniscience can, indeed, co-exist.

It Wasn’t My Choice, OK????

Those are quite possibly the words that changed my life forever.

I’ve been railing against a group I see as legalists and Pharisees for a couple of days now, and I figured it is time I admit a dirty little secret:

I used to be one.

Much like Saul, I was trained in “church” by some of the best in my community. These men and women came from all walks of life, but all of them had a firm foundation in the Bible and what it said. I learned the Bible with my head long before I ever started applying its principles to my heart. I was one of the best in nearly any Bible drill you could think of. At one point, I could name every single book of the Bible in order without any hesitation at all. I could repeat any fact about it in an instant.

And that level of knowledge about the Bible without its core teachings being in your heart is a very dangerous thing indeed. I insisted everyone live according to its edicts. I was one of those “goody two shoes” kids that everyone makes fun of for carrying a Bible around – eerily similar to Grace Bowman in season 1 of Secret Life of the American Teenager.

I caused SOOOO much pain back then, pain that I didn’t really realize until I finally heard the words in the title.

It was my sophomore year of HS, and me and a then friend were walking the halls after school. I was being very judgmental about the revelation she had let slip that she wasn’t a virgin. Finally, she couldn’t take it any more. “It wasn’t my choice, OK?” She yelled at me as she ran away crying.

She had been raped, and my judgment had destroyed any progress she had made in overcoming it.

I said shortly after the incident that her words had cut me like a hot knife through butter, and they still do – more than a decade later.

I didn’t overcome my legalism in that instant. It would take more mistakes, more pain, more learning. But God finally allowed that head knowledge I had of His Word to become a heart knowledge. It became something so intrinsic to me that I don’t have to pray aloud – I know God hears my every thought. It is as natural to me as moving my arm.

I still screw up all the time. Probably have over the last couple of days with my brothers and sisters.

I get easily upset when I see legalism now, because I know all too well the destruction I caused under it and the destruction that it tried to cause me when those around me lived under it. But I’ve been attacking my brothers and sisters rather harshly – vestiges of my old ways. For that, I do apologize – though I most certainly do NOT apologize for fighting legalism in general, only the animosity I have displayed in that fight. Just because my brothers and sisters are misguided does not mean they are not still my brothers and sisters, and I should treat them as such.

I just wish they fully understood, as I do, how much destruction they are causing among those we are called to be reaching.

Still, that does not excuse my actions over the last couple of days. Just wanted y’all to have an idea where I’m coming from.

Christ Had A Choice – And So Do You

As I grow in my relationship with Christ, and as I grow towards what I know to be my destiny, I occassionally get these “lightning bursts” that to me feel more like electricity, but that Jeremiah once described as a fire burning in his bones that has to get out. They aer always unexpected, always amazing, and always something I have to either write about or talk about. I’m feeling the need to write this one though, so here goes:

Christ had to choose to live a sinless life. He had to choose the Cross. We have to choose to follow Him. NO ONE has the right to force us to decide one way or the other on that choice.

If you’re familiar with the Bible – or even if you’ve seen the movie The Passion – you may be familiar with the story of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus of Nazareth literally begged his Father to remove the burden of Golgotha from him – but chose to submit to his Father’s will regardless. This was a son BEGGING his dad not to order him to die, and a dad knowing that there was no other way to save EVERYONE than for his own son to die. In the entire Bible, it is the saddest, most poignant scene – and one of the scenes where the fate of the entire human race – past, present, and future – literally hung in the balance.

But Isaiah knew all about this. Indeed, Isaiah was told that Immanuel – “God with us” – would face a choice every day of his life to choose good or evil. According to Isaiah 7:15, “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know evil and choose the good.” Christ had to experience evil so that he could truly experience the human condition, and he still had to make the choice to choose good.

We don’t know what Jesus of Nazareth experienced as a child or young adult. We can glean a few facts from history that he more than likely saw people he knew crucified by the Roman governtment occupying the land he lived in. Some of those may have been killed for doing things that were perfectly within their religious views, but outside Roman law. We know that he probably saw all manner of decadence and evil being supported by the Romans and maybe even some of his own people – after all, he grew up in what we would probably term as the “other side of the tracks” today. From the Bible, We know the story of his birth, but after that we are given only that his parents went to Jerusalem every year for passover, with one year – when he was 12 years old – having a bit of detail. That can be found in Luke 2:41-52. Essentially, while in Jerusalem that year, Jesus went and spoke to the adults in the local church who were absolutely astounded that such a young boy could know so much about the Torah. After that, we see in verse 52 that Jesus grew both in wisdom and in renown, and men began to trust him.

The next thing we know though, Jesus shows up at the river where his cousin, John the Baptist, is preaching and baptizing people in the name of the one who is to come. Jesus chooses to get baptized over the initial objections of the Baptist, and his Father rewards that choice by audibly calling out from Heaven “You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

Next, Jesus faced a period of ourtight testing. For 40 days in the desert, he was tempted to choose evil just a single time over and over and over – and chose good every single time. He didn’t grow weary of the trial and finally give in just to get it over with. Had he done so, we would all be doomed to Hell right now, as would every single human throughout history.

We don’t know that Jesus of Nazareth knew that the fate of the world hung in the balance of every decision he made in regards to good and evil. That is a theological question that I suspect we won’t find out until we can ask him ourselves.

But we do know that those choices were his and his alone. We know that he was separated from every outside influence for a time, and during that time was tested repeatedly yet never failed. We know that ultimately, he faced Gethsemane and had to choose for himself whether to live for himself or to die for us.

Not even his Father – God, the Father, who literally holds power over every single thing in existence – could make that choice for him. Not even his Father dictated to him which way he should choose.

The choice was entirely his own.

Flash forward roughly 2,000 years or so, to our lives. We face the same choices between good and evil every day. In many places around the world, even in the US to a lesser extent, people literally have to make the choice to live for themselves or die for Christ even as I type this. God the Father, who still literally holds power over every single thing in existence – does not make that choice for us, his most precious creation. God the Father still does not dictate to us which way we should choose.

Why then do we humans try to dictate to each other which way we should choose?

Joshua, one of the first leaders of Israel, once said “Choose this day whom you wil serve”. He said it something like 4,000 years ago, and it remains the choice each of us have every single day.

Choose. This day. Whom. You will serve.

Reflections on ‘Good’ Friday

As we enter into one of the most holy days of Christianity, I wanted to share my thoughts on the concept of ‘Good’ Friday.

You see, to me, most people get lost in either the genuine holiness that is Easter Sunday – which is a good thing, so far as it goes – or they get lost in the traditions and celebrations that are only marginally connected to the day itself, such as the Easter Bunny and all of its trappings.

But by and large, ‘Good’ Friday is largely ignored. Sure, there are cross walks in many towns across this country where local dignitaries carry a large cross from some point to another, with the typical destination being the town courthouse. But these are rituals, nothing more, and are largely ignored by the public at large. Indeed, I can’t even tell you whether or not such events are happening in either Albany or Leesburg, and I’ve lived here for nearly three years!

To me, ‘Good’ Friday being ignored is perhaps one of the single greatest tragedies to ever occur. YES, the celebration day is undoubtedly Easter Sunday. But without a deep reflection on the events of ‘Good’ Friday, there is no deep understanding of the true power of Easter Sunday. You cannot fully appreciate a perfectly sunny, cloudless day without also having experienced the darkest of dark nights, and the same holds true here.

You see, there was nothing ‘good’ about the original Good Friday. I may have my timeline slightly off, but I believe the Last Supper happened on Thursday night/evening. Towards the end of it, Christ calls out Judas Iscariot as his traitor, and basically tells him to go do what he is destined to do. He then retires to the Mount of Olives with the disciples to pray, and even at this point – even as Iscariot is leading the men who are about to arrest Jesus to him – Jesus of Nazareth begs his Father to find some other way to redeem mankind. This is a man who knows he is about to die but wants to live. He KNOWS his death is the only way to redeem mankind, but he is still BEGGING for another way. And he knows all of this even as he KNOWS that his human death only releases him back to his full glory as God the Son, one third of the Trinity yet fully God. Even knowing this, he still doesn’t want to face the full pain he knows is coming, but he readily accepts it anyway. Could you say you would do the same? Don’t answer that blindly. Deeply consider it. Knowing everything that would happen – and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, for all of its brutality, probably STILL doesn’t come close to what actually happened – could you WILLINGLY endure that to save a single life? Christ did.

But I get ahead of myself. Once at the Mount of Olives, the disciples are tired. They’ve traveled a long way, and they’ve just had a very emotional meal with the man they deeply love and consider the Messiah, the man who will overthrow Rome – and he says he is about to die. So they get to the Mount of Olives, and they fall asleep. I dare any of you to say you would have actually done any differently, knowing only what they knew at the time. Jesus comes to wake them a couple of times, urging them to prayer and telling them that his time has nearly expired. Yet they still fall asleep, even while their Messiah begs for his life.

Finally, around midnight – against Jewish law, by the way – the Jewish leaders, led by Judas Iscariot, come to the Mount of Olives to arrest Jesus. Peter is so alarmed (and so belligerent by nature), that he draws his sword – but he is so tired that while aiming to cut a guy’s head off, only gets his ear. Jesus heals the ear and allows himself to be arrested. I can’t help but think of how Frank Peretti would probably describe the scene, with hoards of demons ready for all out war and relishing in their victory over the Son of God readily submitting to them, all the while as the entire Host of Heaven stands by, their weapons sheathed at the command of the Father. If an angel cries at the sins of one man, how much more sorrow must they have felt watching the Son of God submit himself to the full fury of Lucifer.

The next 18 hours or so fly by as the disciples are scared out of their minds. The Messiah has been illegally arrested on false charges, and yet he is being sentenced to die, and the Romans are playing along with the Jewish leaders. They’ve been seen as Jesus’ closest friends for the past 3 years, and they could be next! They are afraid for their lives, yet at least two of them hang back in the crowds as Jesus is tried, tortured, and executed.

One of them, Peter, denies three times knowing Jesus, even going so far as to curse and swear that he does not know the man – just as the rooster cries. You see, 12 hrs earlier Peter had said that such would NEVER happen, and Jesus told him it would. He hangs his head in shame and we don’t hear from him again until Sunday. My bet is that he went into hiding somewhere where much alcohol was available, but no one on this side of Heaven knows exactly what he was doing in this period.

The other, John, follows the crowd even to Golgotha. There, Jesus tells him to watch over Mary, Jesus’ mother. What love must he have had, and what strength, to watch someone he so deeply loved tortured and executed in such a brutal fashion. And the same goes for Mary, who we haven’t heard much from since the Christmas story 33 years earlier. She knew from the beginning that her first son was God’s Only Son, yet he was STILL her first born. And she was having to watch him be beaten beyond all recognition as human, only to then be crucified along side common thiefs.

Finally, we come back to the view from Christ himself. Up until he goes up on the cross, he has enjoyed constant communion with he real dad, God the Father. But once Jesus is on the cross, all of humanity’s sins from Adam until the very end of time are placed on Jesus. Everything the worst people in history have ever done, God considered Jesus to have done it. Every lie we tell today, every affair we have, and any other sin we to today in our every day lives, God considered Jesus to have done it. And he was so incredibly repulsed by it that even He had to turn his back on such vileness. When Jesus was on the cross, in his hour of most desparate need, he was so despicable to his own father that he could not look at him. No one else in all of history has been so despicable to God as to warrant such an action, and because of Easter Sunday no one ever will be.

The next days are again a blur, we know nothing about them. The disciples, presumably, are in hiding at best, drunk and/or suicidal at worst. The man they love most, who they genuinly believed would overthrow Rome, has been arrested by the Jewish leaders and executed by Rome, and they could be next.

Finally, the very darkest hour arrives. After all of the weekend’s prior events, some of the ladies go to where they laid Jesus’ body in a borrowed tomb, only to find the tomb unsealed and the body missing.

Not only has everything else happened, now someone has stolen the body! This is rock bottom, things can absolutely get no worse.

And they are right. For there in the garden with them is a lowly gardener. They probably saw him as they walked in. The ladies run to Peter and John with the news, and Peter and John come to investigate – because they don’t believe the ladies that such a terrible compounding of their situation has happened-, only to see exactly what the ladies saw.

Finally, Mary comes back. She encounters a couple of angels who tell her that was Christ had said would happen has happened. Puzzled and still in the deepest of sorrows, she walks back into the garden, where she encounters the gardener. He asks her what she is looking for, and she basically says that if he has taken the body, PLEASE tell her where she can find it, and she’ll put it back in the tomb. She is DESPARATE at this point, and she is begging just for the body. She knows the Christ is dead, but she still wants to at least give his body a proper burial.

But the gardener says one single word instead:

‘Mary’.

He calls her by her name, and she instantly recognizes him. HE’S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!! JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH IS ALIVE!!!!!!!! WE SAW HIM TORTURED AND EXECUTED, BUT HE IS ALIVE STANDING HERE WITH NOT A SCRATCH ON HIS BODY!!!!!!! HE’S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That, my friends, is how you get the full impact of the story of Easter Sunday, and it is why the song ‘He’s Alive’ is one of my all time favorites. Growing up, I heard it sung by Mike Lemming live in concert several times, and it truly sums up Easter. I leave you with the lyrics:

The gates and doors were barred and all the windows fastened down;
I spent the night in sleeplessness and rose at every sound
Half in hopeless sorrow and half in fear the day
Would find the soldiers breakin’ thru to drag us all away

And just before the sunrise I heard something at the wall
The gate began to rattle and a voice began to call;
I hurried to the window and looked down into the street
Expecting swords and torches and the sounds of soldier’s feet

There was no one there but Mary so I went down to let her in;
John stood there beside me as she’d told us where she’d been.
She said “They moved Him in the night and none of us knows where;
The stone’s been rolled away and now His body isn’t there!”

We both ran t’ward the garden, then John ran on ahead;
We found the stone and empty tomb just the way that Mary said.
But the winding sheet they wrapped Him in was just an empty shell;
And who or where they’d taken Him was more than I could tell.

Well, something strange had happened there,
but just what I didn’t know;
John believed a miracle but I just turned to go.
Circumstance and speculation couldn’t lift me very high
‘Cause I’d seen them crucify Him, then I saw Him die.

Back inside the house again the guilt and anguish came;
Everything I’d promised Him just added to my shame.
When at last it came to choices, I denied I knew His name;
And even if He was alive, it wouldn’t be the same

But suddenly the air was filled with a strange and sweet perfume;
Light that came from everywhere drove shadows from the room.
Jesus stood before me with His arms held open wide;
And I fell down on my knees, and just clung to Him and cried.

He raised me to my feet and as I looked into His eyes,
Love was shining out from Him like sunlight in the skies
Guilt in my confusion disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had just melted into peace

CHORUS
He’s alive! He’s alive, He’s alive and I’m forgiven!
Heaven’s gates are open wide:
He’s alive, He’s alive, oh He’s alive and I’m forgiven
Heaven’s gates are open wide
He’s alive, He’s alive, hallelujah He’s alive

The Opiate Of The Masses

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. –Karl Marx

Those words were written in the middle of the 19th century, when people turned to religion for their every need. I hold that we could replace “religion” with “government” and thus update the quote to the 21st century.

People today turn to government for their every need and desire. And it isn’t just those “evil” entitlement programs that THOSE people use that are the problem. No, “normal”, every day people also turn to government for their needs and desires too. Sign ordinances are a prime example. Someone doesn’t like the way a particular business’ sign looks, so they go to their local government to have that sign banned. Or they don’t like what a book says, so they have it banned from their local library. Or they are afraid of “radicals”, so they ban a church from buying land to expand. Or they don’t like the smell of cigarettes, so they have them banned from every place imaginable. Or they don’t like a particular group getting married, so they put laws in place preventing it. Or some people can’t afford healthcare, so they put laws in place that make healthcare a “free” government service. They think they find freedom in these actions, yet they are only feeling the illusory affects of the opiate called government.
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The Fate of SWGAPolitics.com

Yesterday, during the 3rd Annual Crossover Day Live Blog, I made an announcement that shocked some who were with us:

SWGAPolitics.com is dead.

SWGAPolitics.com has been a grand experiment for me, a life changing one. I took a concept from my mind and made it one of the most well known political blogs in the State of Georgia, and in the process I assisted in both helping to further political causes I supported and helping to defeat political causes I opposed. I gained many great friends, and created some epic battles with new foes. One of the best of friends was my partner here, Tom Knighton.

But the experiment is over, and effectively has been for several months now.

This was a decision many months in the making, one that honestly should have been made several months ago. Indeed, I was tempted to write this post on the night of the 2010 Primary Elections, as that was the last time I was able to devote the time to this site that it needed to be what I really desired of it. But there was a need for it through the 2010 General Election, and so we continued. However, it finally got to the point where we had posted a single post in a month – and it had been more than a month since Tom or I had written an original post here. That, to me, is a sign of a dead blog, and this post is only making that official.

Tom has been active in building TomKnighton.com, and is a regular contributor to UnitedLiberty.org. He also has a new site going online next month, Laws-n-Sausages, which will be a more balanced blog with himself, 2 liberals, and 2 conservatives talking about the issues of the day.

As many of you know, I am the Legislative Director for the Libertarian Party of Georgia, and I also am the Executive Editor at GeorgiaLegislativeWatch.com. I maintain JefferySexton.com, and will begin writing a bit more there on basically anything I feel like writing about, which right now is mostly my job search. The primary reason I haven’t been able to be as active here is that my career is finally picking up, and I leave to concentrate more on it while continuing to fulfill my role in advising the LP-Ga on legislative matters.

We shut down this site not looking back, but forward. There is a great future in the liberty movement, one that both Tom and I will continue to work towards. I hope you will join us in the fight and on our new projects.

To all of the friends and allies we’ve made over the last two years, thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

Emotions and Immigration

Imagine this scenario, if you will:

Your son is traveling through your hometown peacefully. He has never committed a crime and is the ideal son. Suddenly, with absolutely no warning, you are thrust into a coma for weeks. When you awaken, you learn your darling son was killed in the same tragedy that placed you in the coma and you have missed his funeral. You also learn that as a result of your injuries, you will never walk again. You learn that the tragedy was committed by someone in your country illegally. You vow then and there to bring justice to your son, whatever the price.

Now, what is Justice? In America, rational citizens see it as presenting their case before a court that a person has committed a crime before a court, and having that court determine the guilt or innocence of a person based on the facts presented. If guilty, justice is served by some form of punishment – anything from a fine to jail time to even capital punishment. Any of these are allowed for even a crime that results in death, depending on the circumstances.

But others don’t see Justice that way. They take the Mosaic command of an ‘Eye for an Eye’ literally, and demand death when a death is caused. They find the person they feel has committed the crime, and they impose their own sentence their own way.

The tragedy I referred to above is both very real and a very real tragedy. Unfortunately, it has a direct implication for the debate surrounding illegal immigrants in this country.

You see, the above tragedy is the basic story of the Inmans, whose son Dustin was murdered in a traffic accident nearly 11 years ago. It was this tragedy and others like it that led to the foundation of the organization that bears their son’s name – the Dustin Inman Society. Many of its followers have similar stories of tragedies befalling them because of the criminal actions of an illegal alien. Indeed, a good friend of mine told me last night that he agrees with the DAS because he was hit in a hit and run accident where he believes the driver was an illegal.

Here’s where the tables get turned:

I wasn’t just speaking of the Inmans in the scenario above. For more than a decade, we as a nation have been firing missiles into other countries suspected of housing people we call terrorists. Throughout that time, we have accepted “collateral damage” as being perfectly ok because “they’re terrorists”. The problem is that just as the vast majority of Americans simply want to live their lives in peace, so do the vast majority of people throughout the world – even those with a different religion from us. There are firebrands and radicals of ALL stripes and colors who would use violence to further their cause, and no people is immune to this.

The problem is, what we call “collateral damage”, someone who lives where that missile detonated calls their “ideal son”. The person we killed was someone’s loving brother, husband, friend, father. And like the Inmans, they have vowed to bring Justice to their loved one. Because they do not have the tradition of Liberty that we in America have, they immediately work towards what their law allows – murder for murder. Because we did not care about “collateral damage”, neither do they. Indeed, because we do not care about “collateral damage”, they seek to CAUSE “collateral damage” to prove a point to us.

The tragedy I began this post with is indeed a tragedy. But if we are to address the problems surrounding it, we CANNOT allow ourselves to indulge our pain. We MUST think about the issue as rational adults, and we MUST present a solution that works for ALL involved. An emotional knee jerk response, be it “no amnesty” or “kill the infidels”, will only make things far worse, and will only delay our healing.

We need an adult conversation about immigration, and it needs to include the areas where we ourselves have caused the problem. I pray that this conversation can happen soon.

Thoughts and Musings From Jeff